House Majority Leader defends Muslim congresswoman

Steny Hoyer asserts that Republicans are twisting Rep. Rashida Tlaib's comments on Israel and the Holocaust.

Ben Ariel ,

Steny Hoyer
Steny Hoyer

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on Monday came to the defense of freshman congresswoman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) over her controversial comments on Israel and the Holocaust, The Hill reported.

Hoyer asserted that Republicans, including President Donald Trump, are twisting Tlaib's words in criticizing them as anti-Semitic.

"If you read Rep. Tlaib’s comments, it is clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are taking them out of context," Hoyer said in a brief email. "They must stop, and they owe her an apology."

Tlaib, one of two Muslim women who were recently elected to Congress, came under fire after she claimed that Palestinian Arabs living in the British Mandate prior to the establishment of the State of Israel “provided” a safe haven to Jews after the Holocaust.

Tlaib said in an interview with Yahoo!’s Skullduggery podcast program that she felt pride in the fact that her “ancestors, Palestinians” provided Jews with a haven after the Holocaust.

“Let me tell you, I mean, for me, just two weeks ago or so, we celebrated, but just took a moment I think in our country to remember the Holocaust,” she added.

During the 56-minute interview, Tlaib lashed out at both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Trump, accusing Netanyahu of oppression and calling for Trump’s impeachment.

On Monday, Trump accused Tlaib of anti-Semitism in the wake of her comments.

"Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust. She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says?" he tweeted.

MK Michal Shir (Likud) responded on Sunday to Tlaib’s claim that Palestinian Arabs had “provided” a “safe haven” for Jews after the Holocaust, saying the congresswoman should “open up a” book and study the history of the Middle East.

“I suggest Congresswoman Tlaib open up a history book once in a while,” said MK Shir. “The Arabs never provided the Jews with anything after the Holocaust besides more war and death. The Jews who survived the worst of it and immigrated to Israel to join their brothers and sisters in the Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel were forced to deal with terrorists, and the continued and repeated refusal of the Arabs to live in peace and coexistence, leaving [the Jews] with no choice but to defend themselves.”

Hoyer, who leads the pro-Israel faction in the Democratic Party, has come out against anti-Semitic statements in the past. During his speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference in March, he issued a rebuke of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the other Muslim congresswoman, and her anti-Semitic remarks.

"I stand with Israel, proudly and unapologetically. So when someone accuses American supporters of dual loyalty, I say: accuse me," added Hoyer, hinting at comments by Omar, who appeared to refer to domestic support for Israel as “allegiance to a foreign country”.

"Millions of Americans, regardless of race or faith or partisan label, stand with Israel because they understand why our relationship with Israel is so important,” he continued.